THE man responsible for sweeping ambulance service cuts in Essex has stepped down.

Hayden Newton, chief executive of the East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust, has informed the board of his decision to retire.

The announcement came after a vote of no confidence from some staff and on the day massive cuts were due to be introduced in Essex.

Mr Newton has repeatedly defended cuts designed to save £50million, which included removing 14 of the 38 full-time double-crewed ambulances.

Despite some paramedics warning the cuts will cost lives, Mr Newton said he had every faith in them, would see them through and it was his head on the block.

He retires after more than five years in charge and 30 years with the NHS.

In a statement, Mr Newton said: “East of England Ambulance Service Trust is a great place to work.

“We have outstanding staff who work hard to deliver the best possible service to our patients who call us when they are in their greatest need.

“Now I am nearing my retirement age I think the time is right to pass the baton on to a new chief executive while I look for a new focus in my life.”

Mr Newton will leave in the next six months.